Mythili’s role was to conduct art workshops and help to motivate children who’d experienced learning difficulties due to behavioural and emotional problems. The organisation provides destitute children with residential care and education.
Placement : Art Instructor and Mentor for Children with special needs
Location: Uttar Pradesh
Partner Organisation: Udayan Care
What motivated you to volunteer with AFP and India? What did you know about beforehand?
I had previously been to India on holiday and wanted to experience a closer relationship to the culture and Indian lifestyle through volunteering, and AFP met my requirements. My skills were matched with what the partner organisation was looking for, to ensure a ‘perfect fit’.
I designed art therapy sessions to help children build their confidence, creativity, self-esteem and team-work skills to help them cope with formal education. I also put together an exhibition displaying the results of their arts and craft work. We enjoyed plenty of reading together too in a bid to develop communication skills. As a result, the children became more self expressive and their general behaviour improved.
“I had previously been to India on holiday and wanted to experience a closer relationship to the culture and Indian lifestyle through volunteering, and AFP met my requirements.”
What touched you the most about your work?
The children were so enthusiastic about the workshops and had a great deal of creative input. It was actually quite overwhelming to receive such an abundance of attention, focus and motivation! One of my main objectives was to help the girls create basic art that they could relate to personally and develop on their own. As a result, they built large Mandelas which were hung around the care home, helping to reinforce positive affirmations about their backgrounds. I also taught the girls to make journals and affirmation cards which the carers and director at Udayan Care are keen for the girls to maintain regularly.
The older girls were interested in reading about self life coaching and enjoyed the discussions we had on how to apply this knowledge in their everyday lives. I didn’t encounter any difficulties, but it was quite emotional leaving 40 girls who I became quite close to.
What have you gained personally from your experience as a volunteer?
40 little sisters! The experience is hard to put into words but I received unconditional attention and love from girls who were kind, honest and incredibly special. There isn’t a substitute for being part of a group of people who want nothing but your time and affection. I gained a real sense of extended family, communication without words and understanding without explanation. The girls were so receptive and innovative while we worked together, ate together, sang and most importantly, laughed together. Personally, I learned that letting yourself be open to others sharing their character with you can be so fulfilling.
Has your voluntary experience impacted on your career choices since your return?
It has certainly changed some subject areas that I now choose to focus on in my painting and printmaking. I also intend to produce some bookmarks and cards to help raise funds for Udayan Care and other care homes. I am keen to do some further work with the girls. I’m very grateful for the opportunity I had and look forward to going back. My advice to other prospective volunteers would be to keep an open mind, heart and hand.
“The experience is hard to put into words but I received unconditional attention and love from girls who were kind, honest and incredibly special.”